Pulling Down Strongholds

After morning prayer, I laid my back against the pillow and closed my eyes to rest awhile. I thought, “I don’t think I can resume today my Bible Study with the kids in the early evenings. I still don’t have enough strength to discuss and stress the lessons.” An inner voice answered me, “It’s important that you resume and that’s beginning today. Just open the Bible and the strength will be supplied.” I still didn’t know. And I didn’t have any clue what lay ahead of the rest of the day.

At sundown, I heard scuffling and screaming from upstairs. I knew the kids were in disagreement and were fighting again. I couldn’t walk, couldn’t run, couldn’t climb up the stairs, although in these instances, I always want so much to be able to do all those things. I sent  a maid to tell them to come down. There would be explanations, and in the end, always a showing of humility from both sides (with my urging and insistence), apologies, and reconciliation. The little one came without hesitation, face sullen.

I had to ask a maid twice to fetch the older. I was beginning to feel irked and frustrated. The older, she’s developing an independent disposition that is not always honoring as she’s entering puberty. Sadly, there had been many instances of her showing a rebellious heart which had caused me grief and drove me to more gruelling prayers. There are not so many things that puzzle me about life, but motherhood remains to be one of them. And I’m feeling it’s getting harder as my daughter and I are entering into her adolescence.

She came and I tackled first the problem at hand: Why couldn’t she come down at once? Why always the resistance? The exchange became more difficult and frustrating when I learned that the things she needed to do and had been daily reminded of for days remained unaccomplished. But that same afternoon, before the uproar, when she came to me for something she needed at the bookstore, I listened at once and did what she requested, as always.

There is no willing obedience without having learned honor first. As a mother, I do my best to model humility and honor. I sincerely ask for forgiveness from my children when I am wrong and have hurt their feelings. I tell them that I listen to their needs and act on them because I honor and care for them. We teach them to honor us, their parents, and one another, and in so doing, they are honoring God in their lives.

At dinnertime, when the daddy arrived from mid-week service, I hoped to unite the family around the table and, yes, resume our evening devotion reading the Bible. No, she wouldn’t come and didn’t want to eat. How much longer and more painful this “rebellion” would be! Rebellion dishonors the rest of the family and, ultimately, God. Rebellion must be rooted out. 

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. (Eph. 6:4)

More furor. How can you turn ugly into beauty? I wept, I begged, I expressed my love. This love of a mother, I realized, is as durable as a diamond though the heart is many times broken. More efforts, yes. Parenting is like Jacob wrestling with God until you have obtained victory. My ailing and weak body was begging for rest, but when all had quieted and settled down, we found ourselves around our table, the daddy opening our NKJV Greatest Stories of the Bible to chapter 2 which is Genesis 3, after his opening prayer. We listened to him reading how Adam and Eve challenged God by rebelling and disobeying Him. And how they lacked humility by not acknowledging and repenting of their sin, but instead, blamed another.

What Adam and Eve did in the Garden of Eden could still be occurring in our homes over and over:

Rebellion

Disobedience

Lack of humility (repentance)

Dishonor

With hearts pried open by aches, love, and the words of the Lord, these lessons were talked about, instilled, and hopefully digested to the inmost being. I saw bowed heads, faint nods. I saw a cold heart thawing. We prayed in closing. Around our dinner table, I saw the beauty of the Lord once again shining.

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled. (2 Cor. 10:4-6)

If you have been blessed by your visit here, please like Our Healing Moments on Facebook and connect with me there. Thank you!

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,

God’s Designs

My beloved husband texted me to thank me for making the banner of one of our Japanese suppliers and inserting it into the slider of our company’s website. (He had previously requested me to please make it so he could show it during the technical seminar our company and suppliers c0-sponsored). Suddenly, a wave of nostalgia washed over me. I imagined the atmosphere in the hotel’s function room as clients gathered to hear the latest in the Cosmetics Industry. A thought came to me, “I should have been the one facilitating the proceedings and serving our clients.” I could almost “inhale” the atmosphere in there. It was part of my world before. And after 10 years of my “early retirement”(?). Strange, how these feelings still haunt me from time to time.

Ten years ago, I stopped doing the work I loved most. I had no other choice. I was very ill. But I had hoped and prayed and expected to be back soon. But days turned to weeks, and weeks turned to months, painful months. And months turned to years. And at the end of four years, the Lord spoke. He has called me and I needed to let go. I had written about this a few times. Copious tears flowed. You grieve for something you loved so much taken from you knowing that it will never be returned because you have made a vow. A vow to the One who created you, called and saved you, wiping out all your sins, and loving you like no one else can.

How do you learn to accept and still be happy for what you have been given in return?

You do because you fear God and you must heed His voice. He holds your life.

You do because you want to honor Him in your life.

You do because His mercy and love and grace compel you to humbly and completely obey.

You do because you want to please Him; you want that He will be delighted in you. You want to be a joy to Him. Because “the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10).

You humble down and offer constant thanksgiving to the King of kings and Lord of lords who deserves all your praise and love.

You learn to be still in His presence and not fret. You learn to bask in His peace that passes all understanding for it will come to you. Because He that has called you is faithful.

And you will know joy, joy that is true and deep and enduring.

In the evening when my husband arrived from the seminar, he gave me my old client-friends’ best regards. Some have known me way back when I was still a single career girl. They told my husband stories about me, how they had known me. It’s heartwarming to be remembered. Then he told me that at the end of the seminar, he stood on the podium and talked about me. Now, that surprised me! And I asked anxiously, “What did you tell them about me?”

He said he began thus, “I want to talk briefly about the founder…” He proceeded to testify about the goodness of the Lord in my life. Lastly, he presented my work now, the things that are keeping me busy, aside from tending our home. He told them about the four websites I maintain: our company’s, and my three blogs – Minister of Mercy, Our Healing Moments, and Live Joy-Fully!.

I didn’t need this but I thanked him for doing it. It was for the glory of God.

 11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jer. 29:11 NIV)

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,

Break Forth in Song

Meditating on Psalm 98.

Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!
For He has done marvelous things… (Ps. 98:1)

Monday evening, I evacuated our room downstairs and was carried by my husband to our daughter Hannah’s room upstairs. The workers were going to start renovating the master’s bedroom and the adjoining bathroom the following morning. Tuesday, I woke up to a bright, sunny day, the warm rays of the sun beating down on the glass windows. Chalana, one of our maids who assist me, opened the blinds and the vast azure sky came to view.

As I sang praises and worshiped facing the window and the blue sky and the bright white clouds that dotted it, I couldn’t help but remember. Remembered a day when I had felt bereft with my life. I was very sick, weak, and had to leave my work in our company, and I didn’t really know what the future held – for me, our family, our company. But one afternoon while I was sitting in the garage, I saw a piece of the early-afternoon sky, as blue as it could be, and I was suddenly overwhelmed by a powerful feeling: a faith that believes and trusts no matter what.

I raised my arm right then and silently uttered a prayer. Oh God, my Father. As long as I can see the vast azure sky where You dwell, I will believe. I will believe that You are real and You see me. You are high up there beyond that blue vastness and You will help me and bless me. I will believe.

Tuesday morning, I saw that same sky and I couldn’t help but wonder at the great mercies of God and His marvellous workings in my life! It has been almost a decade ago since I prayed that prayer. He had mercifully put in order our lives, our family, our home, our company.

He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel… (v. 3)

He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of His redeemed. As I sat there singing, I remembered all His mercies and faithfulness all these years and I stopped following the lyrics of a praise song written by someone else, and I began to sing a new song, a song that has not been written but comes from a heart He has healed and made whole. I broke forth in a song that told of His unfailing love to me. Unfailing love because it never lets go and its power breathes new life. One song called it His Stubborn Love.

Do you do that, too, dropping the song from the hymnal or the songbook and just let your heart compose its own lyrics of love, adoration and thanksgiving to the Lord? To just sing what comes out of the depths of your being? For really, there are not enough words.

And though heartaches still hound me, I know that there is a need to set them aside and just worship and honor the God who had saved me and had mercy upon me. It is a decision. It is a decision to abandon oneself to Him and for a moment forget the places that hurt.

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth;
Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises. (v. 4)

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,

Beyond Romance

It’s after dinner and we’re in our room resting (after we stayed for a while in the living room listening to Hannah practice her piano piece). Hannah has kissed us goodnight and gone upstairs in her own room. Tim has been sleeping with us ever since his nanny left almost a year ago. He sleeps in a cot at the foot of our bed, but sometimes he sleeps with his Ate Hannah. He hasn’t been utilizing his own room upstairs except to nap in the afternoons.

Tonight, he wants to eat one of the chicken adobo rolls that I baked. While he is relishing the savory bun, I tell him to let his dad taste it, too, so he gives him the other half. And the comments start to come.

“The bread tastes good but you’re right, it needs sauce,” he starts.

“Oops! There is a ginger!” He notices.

“It’s an adobo, of course there’s ginger,” I answer.

“Oh-uh! There is a bone!” He complains as he fishes out for the culprit, a tiny piece of chicken bone.

This was exactly what I was thinking of when I told one of our maids who assisted me to make sure that there is no bone left in the meat as she flaked it. I didn’t want to hear complaints. Even a tiny bit. For me it is a big sacrifice to bake or cook considering that I do it against hard breathing, dizziness, and exhaustion. By the time I finished kneading the dough and started to wrap the meat one by one, I was too exhausted to check if a piece of bone was left amongst the meat! I just wanted the work to be finished so I could take my rest.

My husband knows my condition so well. It’s just frustrating that instead of him appreciating whatever food I produce through my pained efforts, he heaps up negative comments and … I just feel discouraged. So disappointed and discouraged that I bury my face in my hands and sob. I think about the story of Julia Child before she became a culinary guru, how her future husband had endured the dish she cooked for him and remained in his seat and finished his dinner like a gentleman and never uttered a complaint or criticism. The same story I read about Ree Drummond and her future husband who was gentleman enough to eat the food she cooked (which turned out to be a disaster) and never left the table nor expressed disgust. I think about all these and I can feel the self-pity and resentment mounting. But then, I remember also that comparisons N.E.V.E.R. do any good.

He leaves the room. Maybe he doesn’t want the issue to get worse. He is like that. He never wants to engage in a lengthy argument.

I easily get exhausted, and when I am exhausted, I easily get frustrated or disappointed or discouraged. But I always find solace in the Lord, thinking about Him, talking to Him.

I know he will be gone for a long time so I tell Tim to sleep beside me for a while. I just want to rest my tired body and sad heart. Tim sleeps beside me and the warmth of his body comforts my cold places. And I slowly fall to a peaceful slumber.

The opening of the door wakens me from my semi-conscious state but I don’t open my eyes. My husband gently lifts Tim in his arms and transfers him into his cot, then he settles in bed beside me. He comes so close behind me and hugs me very tight. His way of expressing he is sorry he hurt my feelings and made me cry. We stay that way for a few moments, then I need to go to the bathroom and need his assistance.

He stands up and dutifully carries me to the bathroom (for I still cannot walk the short distance :( ). He does it with devotion, like a love that had been committed just for this cause, this vow, more than a decade ago. I know. I just know. He is faithful and dependable like that. In sickness and in health, he never left.

For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh. (Mat. 19:5)

He cleaved to me no matter how hard the trials had been.

The Apostle Paul, in explaining about marriage, after he echoes the Lord’s words, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”, he proceeds to say, “This is a great mystery…” (Eph. 5:31-32).

And remains a mystery to me, too, for there are times that I have to grope for my love – where I should place it, whether I want to give it or withhold it, or what if I lack it, or worse, do I even have enough to get through every marital woe? I often and fervently pray for my love to expand and cover all hurts and mistakes and ugliness. And then practice it. But the craving and striving could sometimes become wearying.

 Maybe what Dietrich Bonhoeffer had written is really true?

“It is not your love that sustains the marriage,
but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.”
― Dietrich BonhoefferLetters and Papers from Prison

I feel it is true. For when I cannot grope for my love in the dark, the vow, the marriage, the commandment, the obedience to God are what holds it all together. To honor the vow, the commandment, is to honor God. We work hard on the marriage, therefore, ultimately to honor God.

He replenishes our love.

And here’s a photo of my freshly-baked chicken adobo rolls:

My gratitude list ~ the things I’m thankful to the Lord for. Continuing to count His blessings:

56. Painful divine pinches that remind this soul to walk perfectly before God, constantly leaning on His strength, wisdom and grace.

57. Singed fingers by hot glue stick – just a simple sign of a love that is willing to serve.

58. the people that assist us

59. His leading and help for me to be able to finally complete my first ebook.

60. the door that He mercifully and faithfully opens so that this soul will be liberated from whatever is holding it captive.

I might be linking up with these lovely blogs.

Journey with Jesus,

Marriage and the Love Between a Man and a Woman

It’s Bro. Edu Cortez’s fault, that very talented photographer behind the lens of Extreme Details Photography – glory to God! He posts these beautiful photos of brides and their grooms, their poses and bodies speak of a language only a man and a woman so in-love with each other know and understand. These evoke exquisite emotions that are not commonly felt – well, not by a wife in her mid-forties like me :)! But, alas! The hopeless romantic in me succumbs to wonderful thoughts about love stirred up by these prenup and wedding photos.

They definitely make me think about the love that captures a man and a woman and brings them to a place where they could give of themselves to each other – in mind, in spirit, in heart, in body – in the sanctity of marriage. It is almost magical; a spellbinding process that is beyond their control.

I can’t help but think about Jacob and Rachel. Jacob, upon seeing Rachel for the first time, wept. Could it be that the rush of emotions was like an avalanche washing over him he just couldn’t express it in words he chose to weep? A love so powerful it seized him in an instant and spurred him to kiss that beautiful young woman who had just captured his heart? The Bible tells that he “lifted up his voice and wept”. I imagine that there were actually no words that came out of his lips but maybe only a pained cry, the soul’s expression of an emotion so strong and wanting to be released. Doesn’t love do that? It moves you so much it hurts?

Without a doubt, the love between a man and a woman is beautiful because it was from God and created by Him. It was part of His design of things from the time of Adam and Eve. And though disobedience drove the very first couple out of Eden, God did not take back the gift of love that He had given them in the beginning. And so, it is what we know and have to this day.

wedding2

Man and woman were created for each other. They are bound by love that makes pure, sanctifies, and not defiles – only in marriage. “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4). The man honors the woman by giving himself to her in marriage, while the woman honors him by submitting to him. The husband is commanded to love his wife as Christ loves the Church (Eph. 5:25). The love of Christ sanctifies, nurtures, endures. It is a love that serves and suffers long.

So when I see a groom holding his bride with much love, care, and admiration, I am in awe of this wonder that God has given His creation.

I have been blessed with a faithful husband whose love holds in sickness and in health, in trials and in triumph. Often, the problem with couples, especially those who are still young, is that they are so idealistic. They look at other couples or spouses and compare. That’s where discontent, criticisms, complaints, fault-finding, and strife come in.

A year after our wedding, I experienced all these things with other marital problems. That’s why soon after, our marriage broke apart. (To read more of our testimony, click here).

When we received the Lord Jesus Christ and He restored our marriage and family, there were still problems and challenges we faced as husband and wife. But our Savior’s mercy and grace held us and taught us.

The world teaches women to be independent and self-sufficient, even to be independent (or defiant) from their husbands, thanks to the feminist movement. But this is in direct disobedience and rebellion against God’s commandment.

Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives [submit] to their own husbands in everything(Eph. 5:24)

For those who live and walk in the Spirit, we know that there is actually liberty in obeying God’s Word to submit to our husbands. Going into the marriage with reservations and holding back ourselves, and striving against our husbands could actually be a prison that we make for ourselves. When we willingly release ourselves in submission to our husbands, we usher in God’s approval, and hence, His favor, and everything flows easier.

This kind of submission doesn’t mean we must lose our voice. It means we honor our husbands by listening to them, respecting their decisions, opinions, and views, be led by them, and not usurp their authority.

This is God’s grand design for marriage.

I’m linking up with other blogs, please check the list at the side bar.

Journey with Jesus,

The Precursor of Blessings

I’ve always mentioned that I thrive in drinking in God’s testimonies as much as I do with His Word. In my book Walking Along the Narrow Path, I used up a whole chapter discussing about testimonies. I am so blessed listening to testimonies after testimonies for hours each week in our church’s worship services. These are so precious that I created a blog to share just a fraction of everything I’ve heard. There are many amazing testimonies (we call them major testimonies) and just to have a taste of what I’m talking about, I invite you to visit Minister of Mercy.

Last Friday overnight service, I heard another extraordinary (aren’t they all?) testimony which reignited fresh new hope within me. That is what I want to share with you and by God’s grace, be able also to dissect the precursor of such wonderful blessings, the Lord’s answers to the prayers of faith.

Sis. Elizabeth C.’s only wish was to marry a man who is good and doesn’t have any vices. But she found out later that she did not only marry a man who was full of vices (cigarettes, liquor, women) but she also felt unwanted by her husband’s quite prominent family. And to add to her misery, she remained barren for more than a decade. She was “looked down to” by her in-laws. But she prayed to God to help her. This was before she came to know her Savior.

One day, her mother-in-law figured in a vehicular accident and sustained a broken hip. She needed to undergo surgery without delay, otherwise her badly fractured hip bone would rot and she would die. The problem was, she had heart disease. The doctors were in a serious dilemma: the mother-in-law may not be able to survive the grueling surgery. In either case, her life was at a great risk.

But the family gambled on surgery. Sis. Elizabeth was so afraid for her mother-in-law. But in that same hospital, she met a lady from Jesus Miracle Crusade International Ministry (these are the ones who visit hospitals to share the Gospel, give out invitations to the worship services, and pray for the sick). That Christian woman comforted Sis. Elizabeth and assured her that her mother-in-law would be prayed for by the beloved Hon. Pastor Wilde E. Almeda together with the prayer warriors and preachers in the Pastoral House. Sis. Elizabeth was greatly comforted knowing that there was a true servant of God who would be praying for her mother-in-law’s safety.

After surgery, the doctors were amazed at how the procedure went on smoothly without any problems. They couldn’t stop talking about it. But they said that they couldn’t assure a complete recovery for the patient and how long she would recover.

As Sis. Elizabeth had promised to the JMCIM sister, she and her husband attended worship service. She was so elated to have found that church. She believed she had found what she had been looking for. On that first day that she fell on her knees at the feet of Jesus, she asked three things in her prayer: first, her mother-in-law’s complete recovery; second, that she will bear a child; and third, that her husband will change.

Notice the arrangement of her prayer requests: she didn’t ask for herself first, but for her mother-in-law, a member of the family where she had always felt small. And this was even when she had been barren 11 years (I would think that should have come first). I think about Ruth, how she loved and clung to Naomi, her beloved mother-in-law (for Naomi had loved and accepted her completely). And God honored Ruth beyond her wildest dreams.

I pondered deeply on Sis. Elizabeth’s story and I arrived to this conclusion: the Lord honored her for her faith and humility (accepting Him without doubts and hesitation), and her love (she believed that this was the One who would accept and love her completely and make her happy, so she poured out her love to Him, for doesn’t the Lord marvel at the one who loves much? See Luke 7:47).

It is this:

…The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Gal. 5:6 NIV)

And this:

With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful… (Psalm 18:25)

Her mother-in-law recovered completely in less than a month. But because Sis. Elizabeth continued to be faithful to the Lord, attending services regularly and praying incessantly, she began to notice that her belly was growing. She went to see an ob-gyne  but nothing could be seen through ultrasound. There was no baby growing inside. She went to different ob-gynes and clinics – the same result. They all concluded that her growing belly is caused by a myoma.

She sought counsel in church. The sister who brought her to the Lord told her to claim God’s answer to her prayer: she was going to have a baby. She was prayed over and laid hands on by the beloved pastor and was told that in nine months’ time, she was going to give birth to a healthy baby.

But because she didn’t have ultrasound result, her brother-in-law brought her to the Philippine General Hospital to be examined. The family’s cousin is a doctor there. She underwent ultrasound and other tests repeatedly, but they found nothing. NO.BABY.GROWING.IN.HER.WOMB. She was scorned by her in-laws and called her crazy for dreaming that she was pregnant. But Sis. Elizabeth held on to the words of the man of God.

We”ll pause and consider how God sometimes makes things so hard, complicated, and painful to test our faith: the words of the specialists against the words of the faithful. No baby was consistently seen, but doesn’t faith teach us to believe to something that is not seen anyway? At this juncture, I’m reminded by how the Bible defines faith. Read this:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen(Heb. 11:1, emphasis added)

On a glorious December day before Christmas, Sis. Elizabeth gave birth to a bouncing baby boy! Halleluiah! 

And it didn’t take long before her husband was completely changed by the Lord: a new man, born of the Spirit.

We read all four of the gospels and we learn that the Lord Jesus Christ operates through our faithBut without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6).

Might be linking up with A Holy ExperienceBetter Mom MondaysDomestically DivineRaising HomemakersBrag on God FridayEncourage My HeartSpiritual SundaysState of the HeartTeach Me TuesdayTeaching What is GoodTitus 2sdaysWomen in the Word WednesdayWomen Living Well

Widening Our Gratitude

Is unhappiness a frequent visitor? Unhappiness that comes from our practice of focusing on what’s lacking and what we think is wrong with our lives? Have our hearts been trained to pursue perfection (that is, of the world) rather than holiness? Eyes that see more of the world’s standard of beauty and success rather than the underglorified beauty of Christlike simplicity?

Maybe the scope of our gratitude has been growing narrower because discontentment has acquired broader territory, and we have missed many an opportunity to thank and praise God for the things that we believe are sparse and not worthy of our gratitude? Or maybe we have been living with more of “if only’s” rather than “even though’s”?

But what if we focus our eyes and hearts to Christ-beauty rather than to world-beauty? But Christ-beauty is entirely different from the world’s. They are exactly opposite and worlds apart, like two parallel lines that will never meet. For the beauty that is Christ’s —

are feet that walk the narrow and dusty roads bringing the Gospel of salvation to the poor, the sick, the outcast.

is a love that loves even the unlovable and the ones who count themselves enemies.

sacrifices willingly and serves joyfully.

If we train our eyes, minds, and hearts to focus on Christ-beauty, our gratitude will widen to even as far as uncharted territory. We will be thanking God deeply not only for the beauty and the goodness He brings to our lives but also for those things we wished to be better or to be changed or to do away with (but God put them there to prove us and teach us precious lessons). But what advantages us if our gratitude grows and expands?

True gratitude liberates the heart from discontent and ushers in pure joy. Joy that is unbreakable and remains. Gratitude honors God and a God-honoring life will be blessed.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Linked to A Holy ExperienceBrag on God FridayEncourage My HeartSpiritual SundaysState of the HeartTeach Me TuesdayTeaching What is GoodTitus 2sdaysWomen in the Word WednesdayWomen Living WellProverbs 31 Thursdays

Discipline

Are you scared already just by reading the title (~ smile)? But seriously, we do need this just as much as our kids do. We bring out the letter of Paul to the Corinthians, dust it up, bring it under the light, and study closely:

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. (1 Cor. 9:24-28 NLT)

Highlighting these:

Run with purpose in every step.

Discipline the body, training it to do what it should.

Do it for the eternal prize.

In and after all your teachings, do not let yourselves be disqualified.

The danger is that, we may get used to doing those things that are not spiritually profitable, ways and practices that are unpleasant in God’s eyes, and our consciences may adapt to them and embrace them in the passing of time. The way we use our minds, eyes, lips and hands, and how we store up stuff in our hearts in everyday life – these will either lead us to a life that honors God or offends Him.

Here are just some of the things we may get used to practicing:

Being unable to concentrate in God during worship service or in private worship and prayer time. Letting the mind roam and focus on other things that distract communion with God. ~ (And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment – Mark 12:30)

Complaining, cussing, judging others, comparing, competing in the mind. ~ (Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things arejust, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things – Phil. 4:8)

Maintaining a thought life that glorifies covetousness, materialism, malice. ~ (But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints – Eph. 5:3);

Letting resentments, ill will, hurts, unforgiveness, envy, jealousy, pride be stored up in the heart and multiply. ~ (Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice – Eph. 4:31; Therefore, lay aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking – 1 Pet. 2:1; For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there – James 3:16)

Not making the practice of examining own motives. ~ (But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy – James 3:17)

Letting the eyes see and read things that make the heart and mind impure. ~ (…be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless – 2 Pet. 3:14; Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ – 1 Thess. 5:23)

Letting the tongue get used to speaking harshly, abrasively; snapping at the spouse, the kids. ~ (Let your gentleness be known to all men – Phil. 4:5; She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness – Prov. 31:26)

Being carried away by an unsaved relative or friend to gossip. ~ (Do not cast off [your] first faith.  Do not be idle, wandering about from house to house, and not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which [you] ought not. … manage the house, give no opportunity to the adversary to speak reproachfully – 1 Tim. 5:11-14)

Striving against the husband: criticizing, sermoning, not submitting to him or honoring him. ~ (Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives – 1 Pet. 3:1)

Spending too much time online and neglecting to spend time with God and reading and meditating on His Word. ~ (Continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers – Acts 2:42; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word – Acts 6:4)

Giving more priority to social networking, TV, phone, going out than to tending the home and the family. ~ (She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. – Prov. 31:27)

Giving more importance to fashion and how one appears to the world rather than on how to be a light to others, reflecting the Lord’s beauty and showing Christlikeness. ~ (Let others see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves – 1 Pet. 3:2-5)

 It is easy to read the Word regularly, yet, when this is not lived out in everyday basis, in every opportunity and situation, it will not have its mighty work in our lives. Walking in the Word and practicing all its teachings need our conscientious, diligent, intentional, steadfast efforts. We need discipline.

Linked to A Holy ExperienceBrag on God FridayEncourage My HeartPink SaturdaySpiritual SundaysState of the HeartTeach Me TuesdayTeaching What is GoodThe Beauty in His GripTitus 2sdaysWomen in the Word WednesdayWomen Living Well, We are That FamilyProverbs 31 Thursdays

Seek First God’s Kingdom {Solomon’s Choice}

(Photo source: Google images)

When the Lord God asked Solomon in a dream what he wanted, he asked for wisdom and knowledge for him to be able to govern and judge God’s people Israel. The Lord was so pleased that Solomon had asked for these things to be able to administer justice, and not long life and wealth for himself, nor the lives of his enemies, that He promised to give him also what he had not asked for – wealth and honor.

King Solomon’s foremost desire was not for his personal welfare but for the welfare of his kingdom – God’s people – that he may be able to successfully accomplish the huge task that the Lord had placed upon him. And the Lord gave him more than he had asked for.

This is a classic and perfect example of the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise in Matthew 6:33:

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Mat. 6:33)

All who have been taught the Word and have read the Gospel know this. Some of us even grew up singing it in Church! But many of us still do it the other way around – tend to our business first then seek God in our extra time. But when we do it this way, we find that we are mostly on our own. And even if we give it our all, in the end we may find that not all these things have been added unto us. That is, we may find that all our efforts have not produced all and exactly what we have been dreaming of.

To seek first the kingdom of God may mean a gigantic, life-changing decision to one or an everyday simple but wiser choice to another. A father may totally give up his work and profession to become a full-time preacher, trusting that the Lord will provide for his family and for the education of his children. Or a wife and mother would choose to seek the Lord’s face first thing in the morning and spend precious time in His presence before tackling the numerous chores that await her. Then she would find that the Lord has added these to her: renewed strength, inspiration and joy to face the day and its challenges.

The opportunities to seek God first may also come any hour of the day. When there is chaos in the family and we are near to breaking point, we may scream in total frustration and helplessness, vent out our anger at our spouse or kids, walk out, or we can sink to the floor on our knees, give honor to God, sing praises to Him, sing, sing, sing, until the heart quietens, and pray, pray, pray, until all the inner turmoil flies away and peace takes its place.

We then realize that by seeking the Lord in the midst of a problem, He adds all these: comfort, peace, strength, wisdom, guidance, solution.

When we seek God first and His kingdom, the principle that was applied to the life of King Solomon in which he received wisdom, wealth and honor  – this same principle will God use to operate in our lives.

******

My gratitude list – I’m thankful to the Lord for:

  • The aroma of bread baking in the oven that fills our home. In photo is ham, tuna and cheese bread that we made.
  • The sweet fragrance of these lovely stargazer lilies.
  • Our hibiscus plant blooming proudly everyday.
  • The healing of my beloved husband’s sickness which lasted for a week, but the Lord is merciful!
  • The opportunity to give counsel to a friend which she sought.
  • Playing with my little Tim, the giggles and peals of rich laughter that we share!
  • Watching my daughter Hannah blossom into a lovely littlest woman.
  • My new praise and worship CD: You are Love by Darlene Zschech.
  • The gift of writing and the anointing, wisdom and inspiration that come with it.

Lessons from the Workplace

We make our very first ice cream in our new ice cream maker and I can’t help but be reminded of my second job (my first job was a 2-month stint in a thermoplastics plant) after I graduated from college and took the ChE Licensure Exams (this was over two decades ago :-)). It was a dream job for me – working in the Quality Assurance Department of an ice cream factory. A large food processing company, one where I also had my practicum during college (and where I met my husband), bought a local ice cream brand, and I was one of those who were deployed in the former owner’s plant during the transition period.

Being a newly-grad, I was overflowing with enthusiasm to do my job. The old ice cream plant reeked of technical problems that affected the quality of the product and overall efficiency of production. Because of these, I made several practical innovations in some of the processes, like stabilizing the cooling temperature and shortening the cooling time, etc. I also made improvements in the data monitoring and recording systems, and I discussed and taught these things to whoever was new and assigned in the production line.

I was also overly eager to make reports of all the observations and problems that I and my colleagues encountered, not forgetting to enumerate my recommendations. And thus, I did.

I had to learn at that early stage of my career the heartbreak competition in the workplace brought. Apparently, it wasn’t that easy to perform finely and be well-accepted by everyone at the same time. I learned painfully that it wasn’t only me who had big dreams in the field, and because of that, I encountered the “ugliness” of competition.

When I was in college, I picked up a line in a movie which goes this way: “Competition brings out the worst in the human animal.”

And I do believe that this is true in most cases. And there is also a well-known proverb in our country, one that speaks of “crab mentality”. We know the crabs, that if one of them is trying to climb to the top, another one would promptly come to pull it down.

Controversies, dishonesty, pride, ganging up, hostilities, unfairness… – all these affected me and made me cry. So I quit.

Looking back now, I know that if I were a born-again Christian then, everything would have been different, because I do believe that a life walking closely in the Spirit and guided by the Word of God is a different life altogether.

Well, I am talking about these things now not because I am still active in my profession, for fact is, I have prematurely retired due to my illness and have fully surrendered my life to the Lord. But I thought of sharing these things believing that I might impart some words of wisdom, so to speak, to one who is struggling in the workplace.

Wherever we find ourselves in – whether in relationships, in the community, in the workplace, or in the industry we do business in – it’s really hard to be alone, fully relying on our own strength, abilities, and intellect. But if the Spirit of the Lord is in us, we rely on its wisdom and guidance, and we learn to deal with the challenges that we encounter in our work with grace and courage.

One godly virtue that stands out in my mind now which I believe could change our whole situation in our work is – HUMILITY. If we have learned this and we truly have it in our hearts, we are out of the clutches of pride and competition. A humble spirit can dwell peaceably with any kind of personality.

There are rewards in embracing humility (and keeping the Lord’s commandments overall):

  • Obtain God’s grace

…Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. (1 Pet. 5:5)

  •  Gain riches, honor, life

Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honour is humility. (Prov. 18:12)

By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honour, and life. (Prov. 22:4)

  • Gain leadership and superiority

And the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the Lord thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them. (Deut. 28:13)
******
Continuing with the giving of thanks and exalting the name of our Shepherd and King – JESUS CHRIST!

I guess we’ve been so enthusiastic with our new ice cream maker that we made another batch – chocolate fudge ice cream. It’s a hit with the whole family :-)!

Ice cream before bedtime? But then again, I’ve been young and now an adult, but I haven’t known any child who doesn’t like ice cream. But more than enjoying ice cream is the love, joy and peace that dwell in our hearts and home, and I thank God everyday for that.
Banana and jackfruit spring rolls. I thank the Lord for strength to do simple tasks such as cooking for family. This is a snack that’s very simple to make but one that the whole family loves. If you’d like to get the recipe, it’s in my Homemaking page. Click here.

I thank the Lord for His Spirit – a constant, comforting Companion.

My little Tim singing Michael W. Smith’s Agnus Dei. Although lisping through the lyrics, he does it fervently.

From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise… (Psalm 8:2 NIV1984)

For my blog followers, visitors, readers, and all of your heartwarming comments. I thank the Lord Jesus for the blessed opportunity to minister to you, and I do value the connection and friendship.

For flowers that continue to bloom in the garden. And although they are not in profusion, I still admire their beauty, one that only God could paint perfectly.

Related articles: To Be Christ-like: Meek and Humble; The Dove and the Serpent {To Be Gentle and Wise}

Participating with Multitudes on Mondays at A Holy Experience.

This post is also linked to Titus 2sdays, Domestically Divine, We Are That Family, Women Living Well, Raising Homemakers, Women in the Word Wednesday, Proverbs 31 ThursdaySpiritual Sundays